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Military and Veteran Students: Getting Funding for Education Outside the Federal Government

Dec 21, 2012 Jennifer Williamson, Distance Columnist | 0 Comments

There are many different government programs covering tuition for military members. There’s the Montgomery GI Bill, the Post-9/11 GI Bill, the Yellow Ribbon Program, the Military Tuition Assistance Program, REAP—the list goes on. But even with all these programs, tuition is expensive—and it’s still possible that you might have to pay some costs that come with education out of pocket.

That’s the bad news. The good news is that there are also other sources of funding for members of the military—outside of the federal government. Here are just a few ideas if you’re stuck looking for additional tuition funding.

State scholarships for members of the military

Many states offer government scholarships for members of the military, particularly to study in-state. For example, check out the HESC Foundation for New York State. There are 39 scholarships for students in Georgia who earn a Bachelor’s degree and then enroll in the National Guard. And Kansas  offers scholarships for residents of Kansas who served in Iraq or Afghanistan on or after 2001 and who are going to schools in-state.

See Also: Military Distance Education

Private sources of funding

There are private organizations out there that offer assistance to members of the military for school tuition. For instance, the Pat Tillman Foundation, named for an NFL player and military servicemember who died in battle, provides scholarships for active-duty military members, veterans, and their spouses.

See Also: Online College Degree Programs

AMVETS also offers  military scholarships for both military members and veterans—as well as children and grandchildren of deceased veterans. The American Legion Auxiliary also offers a scholarship for non-traditional students with a military background. So does the Horatio Alger Foundation.

Sources from the school

Some traditional and accredited online degree programs provide special tuition rates for members of the military. For instance, Central Michigan University  offers nearly $100 off per credit-hour for undergraduate degree programs, and $189 off for graduate programs. The University of Louisville offers a price of $250 per credit hour, bringing the credit hour price in line with TA reimbursement rates for semester credit hours.  Stratford University offers 50% off regular tuition prices for active-duty military members.

Some schools are willing to bring down tuition prices for individual members of the military so that federal assistance covers the whole price; talk to your financial aid office to determine if that’s possible for you.

Your employer

If you’re currently employed and have a military background, your employer may be willing to help you make up the difference in tuition costs between your federal and other financial aid and what you’re expected to pay. This is a benefit that’s often available for employees who both are and are not veterans, and it may require a commitment to keep working with that company for a certain number of years. Talk to your boss or your Human Resources department to find out more.

Tuition forgiveness programs

If you work in a government capacity after you’ve finished your tour of duty—as a teacher or firefighter, for example—or if you go into a large-scale volunteer or work program such as the Peace Corps or Teach for America after serving your tour of duty, you could be eligible for forgiveness of some or all of your loans. This is a benefit available for both military members and those outside of the military.

Bear in mind that if you land a scholarship or tuition assistance from a source outside of the federal government, it may affect the amount of federal aid you receive—and you may want to check with a counselor for more specific advice regarding how outside aid will affect your GI Bill, TA, or other benefits. Still, outside aid could help you make up the difference between your federal military aid and the amount you need to pay for tuition—and it’s worth it to do the research.


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